12 Soldiers Killed As Gunmen Invade Military Base In Niger

 

Gunmen killed 12 soldiers Wednesday in a predawn raid  on a military base in southeastern Niger’s Diffa region, a regular target of Boko Haram jihadists, the defence ministry said.

Another eight soldiers were wounded in the attack on the Blabrine military unit, said the ministry statement read out on state radio, adding that this was a provisional toll.

The attack was “very probably” carried out by Boko Haram, the statement added.

This was the latest in a string of increasingly brazen attacks near the west African country’s border with Nigeria, where the radical Islamist insurgency has claimed hundreds of lives.

The attack was launched at around 3:00 am (0200 GMT), a municipal source told AFP earlier on condition of anonymity.

A senior official in Diffa added that military equipment had been torched in the attack.

Diffa, which borders the birthplace of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, has been hit by repeated cross-border attacks by the Nigerian jihadist group since 2015.

There was a lull in the attacks late last year, but they have ramped up since March when 10 civilians were killed by a suicide bomber in the town of N’Guigmi, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Blabrine base.

The mayor of Kabalewa, a village close to N’Guigmi, and his wife were kidnapped by Boko Haram members earlier this month.

The jihadist group has also previously carried out large-scale assaults on military posts, including a raid on a base near the southeastern town of Bosso in 2016 in which 26 soldiers were killed.

 ‘Threat spreads to the south’ 

Boko Haram, loosely translated as “Western education is banned”, wants to create a hardline Islamic state.

A regional military coalition is battling the group, but the decade-long insurgency has killed at least 35,000 people in Nigeria alone.

Located in the Lake Chad basin in the middle of the Sahel, the Diffa region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria fleeing the Boko Haram violence, as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released this month.

The region has also seen flooding after heavy rains caused the Komadougou Yobe river to burst its banks, affecting at least 40,000 people, the government has said.

As well as facing Boko Haram to the southeast, Niger is also battling jihadists — including those from the Islamic State group — in the west near the Malian border.

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou has repeatedly called on the West and the United Nations to help the country battle the jihadists.

But the presence of French, American, and German forces in Niger as well as the UN in Mali has not stopped the increasing attacks.

“Not a day goes by without loss of life,” Issoufou said last month, warning that the situation was urgent as “the threat spreads to the south”.

AFP

15 Killed In Fresh Burkina Faso Attack

 

Gunmen killed 15 civilians in northern Burkina Faso over the weekend, security and local sources said Monday, in the latest deadly attack as the impoverished West African country battles a jihadist revolt.

“On Saturday night numerous armed individuals attacked the village of Pobe-Mengao and kidnapped several residents, ransacked shops and carried away equipment,” a local source said.

A security source said “the lifeless bodies of 11 people were found on Sunday morning… probably the bodies of those abducted the day before in Pobe-Mengao by an armed terrorist group”.

The local source said that “after the attackers departed, the population started to leave the village to take refuge in Djibo — particularly after the bodies were discovered.”

Djibo, the capital of the Soum province, is 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Pobe-Mengao.

The gunmen returned to Pobe-Mengao on Sunday morning, where they “shot in the air for several hours before leaving,” said the source, who is a Djibo resident, quoting testimonies from the displaced villagers.

Four more bodies were found after the second onslaught, the source told AFP, bringing the death toll to at least 15.

The security source said that reinforcements had been sent to patrol the area.

Soum is one of a swathe of provinces in northern Burkina Faso that have been battling with a four-year-old wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed around 640 lives nationally, according to an AFP toll.

Nearly 500,000 people have been internally displaced.

More than 10,000 people marched in the capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to express their support for the country’s security forces, which are badly-equipped, poorly trained and under-funded.

AFP

16 Killed In Burkina Faso Mosque Attack

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019 Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Armed men stormed a mosque in the volatile north of Burkina Faso as worshippers were at prayer, killing 16 people and sending residents fleeing, security sources and locals said Saturday.

The attack on the Grand Mosque in the town of Salmossi on Friday evening underscores the difficulties faced by the country in its battle against jihadists.

One source said 13 people died on the spot and three succumbed to their injuries later. Two of the wounded are in critical condition.

“Since this morning, people have started to flee the area,” one resident from the nearby town of Gorom-Gorom said.

He said there was a “climate of panic despite military reinforcements” that were deployed after the deadly attack.

Although hit by jihadist violence, many Burkinabes oppose the presence of foreign troops — notably from former colonial ruler France — on their territory.

On Saturday, a crowd of about 1,000 people marched in the capital Ouagadougou “to denounce terrorism and the presence of foreign military bases in Africa.”

“Terrorism has now become an ideal pretext for installing foreign military bases in our country,” said Gabin Korbeogo, one of co-organisers of the march.

“The French, American, Canadian, German and other armies have set foot in our sub-region, saying they want to fight terrorism. But despite this massive presence… the terrorist groups… are growing stronger.”

Until 2015, the poor West African country Burkina Faso was largely spared violence that hit Mali and then Niger, its neighbours to the north.

But jihadists — some linked to Al-Qaeda, others to the so-called Islamic State group — started infiltrating the north, then the east, and then endangered the southern and western borders of the landlocked country.

Combining guerrilla hit-and-run tactics with road mines and suicide bombings, the insurgents have killed nearly 600 people, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

Civil society groups put the number at more than 1,000, with attacks no taking place on almost a daily basis.

Burkina’s defence and security forces are badly-equipped, poorly trained and have shown themselves to be unable to put a halt to the increasing violence.

France has a force of 200 in Burkina Faso but also intervenes frequently as part of its regional Barkhane operation.

Almost 500,000 people have fled their homes because of the violence, according to the UN refugee agency, which has warned of a humanitarian crisis affecting 1.5 million people.

Almost 3,000 schools have closed, and the impact on an overwhelmingly rural economy is escalating, disrupting trade and markets.

AFP

Eight Killed In Burkina Faso Attacks

Burkina Faso on the map.

 

At least eight people were killed in two attacks in the north of Burkina Faso, security sources said on Sunday.

They were the latest in a series of attacks that claimed 17 lives Saturday, in violence generally blamed on a long-running jihadist insurgency in the poor, fragile Sahel region.

Seven people were killed on Saturday at around 6:00 pm local time, by an armed group in Deneon village in Bam province, one security source told AFP.

A soldier was also killed on Saturday when an army unit was attacked in Deou in Soum province, said another security source, who confirmed the attack on Deneon.

Security sources already reported a deadly raid Saturday morning on another northern village, Komsilga, in Zimtanga district.

Around 20 attackers on motorbikes killed nine villagers and set fire to shops and motorcycles.

Security had been stepped up in the region and the security sources were searching the zone, said a security source.

Burkina Faso has become part of a seven-year-old jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region.

More than 585 people have been killed since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Many of the attacks have been attributed to groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda, and others to the so-called Islamic State group.

The Burkinabe army, which itself has suffered heavy losses, has been unable to stop the attacks.

The violence, which at first was concentrated in the north of the country, has spread to other regions in the east and west.

AFP

Xenophobic Attacks: Wizkid Slams Celebrities Over Comments, Calls For Peace

Wizkid

 

Nigerian award-winning musician, Ayodeji Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid has slammed celebrities over their comments on the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Taking to his Twitter handle, the Ojuelegba crooner called for peace, asking the masses to allow love to lead.

While regretting that most people are dying, Wizkid cautioned Nigerian celebrities, asking them not to point accusing fingers.

“I’ve seen so many insensitive and dumb stupid comments from You celebrities and I’m so disappointed! This is not a time to fight or point fingers!! Let love lead,” he tweeted.

His reacting follows the deadly attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg triggered reprisal assaults on South African businesses in Nigerian cities.

Five people, most of them South Africans, have been killed and at least 289 have been arrested since the violence flared on Sunday.

Dozens of shops were destroyed in Johannesburg and nearby Pretoria, the country’s political capital.

Xenophobia: Zambian Students Storm South Africa Embassy, Destroy Properties

Zambia’s university students burn the sign outside the South African Embassy in Lusaka on September 4, 2019, during a demonstration to protest against xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in the Rainbow Nation. SALIM DAWOOD / AFP

 

Angered by the recent xenophobic attacks, some Zambian students on Wednesday took to the South African Embassy in Lusaka, the country’s capital.

The visibly-angry students of the Rainbow nation defied huge police presence and approached the embassy to achieve their aim.

Despite being addressed by the Zambian general Police inspector Kakoma Kanganja and his police team, the citizens seems not to be pleased with his remark.

READ ALSO: Protesters Burn Tyres As Police Prevent Attack On Shoprite In Abuja

The action comes shortly after Zambia has cancelled an international friendly football match which was slated for Lusaka next weekend against South Africa.

“This is because of the security concerns, you never know what can happen,” Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) secretary-general Adrian Kashala, told AFP. “We want to be sure of the security of (the) visiting team”.

The attacks on foreign stores began a day after South African truckers started a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest against the employment of foreign drivers. They blocked roads and torched foreign-driven vehicles mainly in the southwestern KwaZulu-Natal province.

See photos from the protest below:

Deadliest Attacks On Kabul

Bomb Blast In Kabul
Bomb Blast In Kabul

 

Saturday’s suicide attack targeting wedding celebrations in Kabul is one of the deadliest in Afghanistan’s nearly 18-year-old war against the Taliban.

Here is a look at some of the worst incidents in the capital since 2008:

– 2019 –
– August 17: An Islamic State suicide bombing at a packed wedding hall kills at least 80 and wounds more than 100.

– 2018 –
– December 24: An hours-long bomb and gun attack on a Kabul government compound kills at least 43 people. The Taliban denies responsibility.

– November 20: A suicide bomber blows himself up among religious scholars inside a wedding hall in the capital, killing at least 55 people. The attack is unclaimed.

– April 22: An Islamic State bomber kills 57 people, all civilians, outside a voter registration centre amid preparations for legislative elections.

– January 27: An ambulance packed with explosives detonates in a crowded street in the heart of the city, killing 103 people, according to an official toll. The attack, which kills many police officers, is claimed by the Taliban.

– 2017 –
– October 20: A suicide attack during Friday evening prayers at a Kabul Shiite mosque sees 56 people killed and 55 wounded. The IS claims responsibility.

– May 31: More than 150 are killed and 400 wounded when a massive truck bomb rips through the city’s diplomatic quarter during rush hour. The attack, which is not claimed, is the deadliest in the capital since 2001.

– March 8: Gunmen disguised as doctors storm Afghanistan’s largest military hospital in a six-hour attack. The official death toll is 50 but security sources and survivors say it exceeded 100. The attack is claimed by the IS.

– 2016 –
– July 23: Twin explosions rip through crowds of Shiite Hazaras, killing at least 84 people. It marks the first major IS assault on the capital.

– April 19: A truck bomb followed by a shootout leaves 64 people dead and nearly 350 injured in central Kabul in a Taliban-claimed attack.

– 2011 –
– December 6: An attack targeting the Shiite minority on the holy day of Ashura kills 80 people. The Taliban denies responsibility.

– 2008 –
– July 7: 60 people, including two diplomats and two Indian guards are killed in a suicide car bombing on the Indian embassy in the capital. The Taliban say they were not involved.

Numerous attacks have been carried out in the rest of Afghanistan. In the most deadly, 140 people, including more than 50 auxiliary police officers, are killed in the southern city of Kandahar in February 2008.

Suspected Mastermind Of Ethiopia Attacks Shot Dead – Report

Ethiopia Map

 

The security chief of Ethiopia’s northern Amhara state, suspected of being behind a coup bid in the region and of possible links to the assassination of the army chief, has been shot dead, state media reported Monday.

“Asaminew Tsige, who has been in hiding since the failed coup attempt over the weekend has been shot dead” in the regional capital Bahir Dar, state broadcaster EBC reported.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office had named Asaminew as the chief suspect in an “attempted coup” in Amhara that left the region’s president, a top adviser and attorney general dead on Saturday.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia Mourns After Bloody Coup Attempt

A few hours later in what the government said appeared to be a coordinated attack, the army chief Seare Mekonnen was killed by his bodyguard.

However, details of links between the two attacks and their ultimate motive have not been made clear.

Asaminew was only last year released from almost a decade in prison over a 2009 coup plot under an amnesty.

Analysts describe him as a hardline Amhara nationalist who was likely facing removal from his job over efforts to form a militia and rhetoric pushing for territory in neighbouring Tigray to be reclaimed.

He recently appeared in a Facebook video calling for civilians to arm themselves in preparation for the attack.

AFP

UK Relaxes Sri Lanka Travel Advice Issued After Attacks

Sri Lankan security personnel walk past dead bodies covered with blankets amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

Britain on Thursday relaxed its travel adviceon Sri Lanka after earlier warning against “all but essential travel” following the April terror attacks that claimed more than 250 lives.

“If you’re visiting or resident in Sri Lanka, you should continue to remain vigilant and keep up to date with developments,” the Foreign Office said on its website.

Tourists were still warned that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks.

“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners,” it said.

Over 250,000 Britons visited Sri Lanka in 2018, making it the third-highest source of tourism behind India and China, with the two countries retaining strong links since Sri Lanka became independent of colonial rule in 1948.

The suicide bombings against three Christian churches and three luxury hotels were blamed on a local jihadi group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Police say just over 100 people, including 10 women are in custody in connection with the attacks.

Security forces also detained a further 100 suspects in four days of cordon-and-search operations, according to military officials.

AFP

I Can’t Promise Boko Haram Will Or Will Not Be Eradicated – Garba Shehu

 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, says he cannot promise whether or not the Boko Haram terrorists will be eradicated.

He stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily when he was asked if terrorism has come to stay or it is a challenge that will till fade out.

“I can’t promise you that Boko Haram will or will not be eradicated but it is an ongoing challenge globally. Even in the more advanced countries or more weaponised nations, it is still a challenge,” he said.

Regardless of the attacks, Shehu stated that the Federal Government has ‘greatly minimised’ the terrorists’ activities.

According to him, the current administration has discovered manufacturers supplying weapons to the insurgents.

“The attacks are still a far cry from the enormity of those attacks that we have seen in the past. They have been greatly minimised and they have greatly pushed away from the national population.

READ ALSO: Obasanjo, Ajimobi Inaugurate Projects At IITA

“Government has identified local manufacturers and we don’t know the next steps that will follow. But the Federal Government is also internalising this campaign. The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu who has worked with the International Police (Interpol) is putting them to good effect.

“With the support we are getting from our neighbours, we are trying to see how we can stop (the supply and manufacturing of weapons),” he stated.

Ahead of the President’s inauguration for a second term in office on Wednesday, the presidential spokesman also spoke on the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.

He decried a situation whereby the budget experienced delay following what he described as a frosty relationship with the National Assembly.

“The iconic delay experienced in 2018 of 7 months, the National Assembly holding on is good enough for the Guinness Book of Record and the President has lamented,” he stated.

Sri Lanka Extends Emergency A Month After Suicide Bombings

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena delivers a speech/ AFP

 

Sri Lanka’s president extended on Wednesday by a further month the state of emergency imposed immediately after the Easter Sunday Islamist bombings that killed 258 people.

Maithripala Sirisena issued a proclamation saying that the emergency, which gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects for long periods of time, would continue for another 30 days, citing “public security”.

Sri Lanka initially imposed the emergency to crack down on local jihadists blamed for the April 21 bombings that targeted three churches and three luxury hotels.

READ ALSO: Thousands May Lose Their Jobs As British Steel Collapses

Three weeks after the suicide bombings, anti-Muslim riots broke out in a province north of the capital in a backlash against the attacks. At least one Muslim man was killed and hundreds of Muslim-owned shops and homes were destroyed. Several mosques were also vandalised.

The police and the military say they have arrested scores of suspects, both in connection with the bombings and over what appeared to be organised violence against the Muslim minority.

The authorities say they have neutralised the jihadist threat after arresting almost all those involved in the Easter attacks, but troops and police remain on alert across the island.

Christians make up 7.6 per cent and Muslims 10 per cent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka.

AFP

Fake News Rampant After Sri Lanka Attacks Despite Social Media Ban

 

Sri Lankan social networks saw a surge in fake news after the Easter suicide bombings a month ago despite an official social media blackout, highlighting the inability of governments to contain disinformation, experts said.

A nine-day ban on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp was introduced following the Islamic State-claimed attacks on churches and hotels on April 21 which killed 258 people and wounded nearly 500.

Many anxious social media users switched to virtual private networks (VPNs) or the TOR network to bypass the order and keep communication open with friends and relatives as the extent of the carnage became clear.

READ ALSO: Trump Impeachment Pressure Grows From Democrats

But for others, the tools were a means to spread confusion and vitriol as the island struggled to come to terms with one of the worst terror attacks in its history.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, who monitors social media for fake news at the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, said the government blackout had failed to prevent “engagement, production, sharing and discussion of Facebook content”, and that he had seen a significant increase in false reports.

 Old coffins 

AFP has published half a dozen fact-checks debunking false claims made on Facebook and Twitter after the Easter attacks.

Some had dug out photos of coffins and funerals from Sri Lanka’s brutal decades-long civil war and claimed they showed victims of the blasts.

One video posted to Facebook showed police arresting a man dressed in a burqa and claimed he was involved in the bombings. The video was actually from 2018 and showed a man who had used a burqa to hide his identity while he sought to attack someone over a debt issue.

Another used a five-year-old photo from India that showed a group of men wearing T-shirts with “ISIS”, another name for Islamic State, written on them to claim there was an active IS cell in eastern Sri Lanka.

One Twitter user claiming to be a high-ranking Sri Lankan army brigadier used the platform to accuse neighbouring India of being involved in the attacks. The account was later taken down by Twitter after the Sri Lankan army complained.

Authorities in Sri Lanka — where ethnic divisions still linger after decades of war — previously blocked Facebook in March 2018 after Buddhist hardliners used incendiary posts to fan religious violence that left three people dead and reduced several hundred homes and shops to ashes.

The surge in fake news has further blemished the troubled reputation of social media — which several years ago had been seen as a means to expand freedom of information — in the region.

In India, authorities have temporarily shut down mobile networks or blocked social media apps during riots, while critics say the spread of hate speech via Facebook was crucial in facilitating a brutal 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

Since the attacks, Sri Lankan authorities have imposed other short bans on social media, including earlier this month after mobs in the northwestern town of Chilaw attacked Muslim-owned businesses in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper.

 No answer 

But for those unaware of the government ban or unable to circumvent it, the blocking of social media in the days following the attacks was a cause for panic.

A Sydney-based engineer was desperate to call his sister in Colombo soon after hearing about the Easter blasts, but could not get through.

“I kept calling her on WhatsApp, but there was no reply. We are so used to calling on WhatsApp, I had forgotten her landline number,” the Sri Lankan-born engineer said.

Fortunately, he said, he managed to call a friend in Colombo who was using a VPN to access WhatsApp and told him about the social media ban that prevented him from reaching his sister.

AFP